The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers

Alice Hoffman

Just like the Saudi women who competed in the 2012 Olympics for the first time, this novel draws on the strength of four exceptional women under the constraints of a patriarchal religious society. It is an inspirational and powerful historic epic, set prior to the siege of Masada in 70AD. The intense, evocative narrative captures raw determination; its haunting prose propelling me through a marathon of emotions.


I would not move when my father shouted at me, or when he raised his hand to me. In the end my father had to bury them. It was a woman’s place to ready bodies for the Angel of Death and chant lamentations, then to set herself aside until the spectre of death was no longer with her, but I refused. Welts rose across my back and shoulders when my father beat me, but I would not be his dog on this day. My father shouted out that I was a coward, afraid to see the needs of the dead, but he was wrong. I wasn’t afraid to be unclean any more than I was afraid of the dead. I only feared that if I held Ben Simon for too long, I wouldn’t be able to let him go.

  • Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  • Anything by Louis de Bernieres

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